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Book Title: Kafka: The Complete Stories|
The author of the book: Franz Kafka
Format files: PDF
ISBN 13: 9780805204230
The size of the: 7.80 MB
Date of issue: September 12th 1988
Read full description of the books Kafka: The Complete Stories:The idea that there exists such thing as a “must read” book is one of the great fallacies diluting literature. To judge a reader unfavourably because a certain book is not on his or her shelf, rather than to praise and learn from the idiosyncratic choices to be found there instead, is to wish for a literature of bland homogeneity. To label a book “must read” is to condemn it to being misunderstood. And when that book is by the strange, reclusive, haunted black-humourist Franz Kafka, and is given to students to pour over with grave seriousness for hints of political allegory or prophecy, the misunderstanding is so pronounced as to be, in itself, “Kafkaesque”.
All those young heads bowed over Metamorphosis, trying their damnedest to see in this giant bug the wisdom of the sage, when the sage himself must surely have been shaking his own head in disbelief at the balls-out irreverence of it, maybe even wondering, “Is it too ridiculous?” It’s as if some high official had ordained that a sacred text be read and reported on by all those seeking admission to the Castle, but when the applicants receive that text they find in it the trivial rantings of a madman. So, desperately, unwilling to crack a smile lest the Castle feel itself mocked, they eke out some tenuous thread of analysis and miss the sacredness, AKA the humour.
In speaking of Kafka, Milan Kundera quotes Czech poet Jan Skacel:
Poets don’t invent poems
The poem is somewhere behind
It’s been there for a long time
The poet merely discovers it
He goes on to say:
Indeed, if instead of seeking “the poem” hidden “somewhere behind” the poet “engages” himself to the service of a truth known from the outset... he has renounced the mission of poetry. And it matters little whether the preconceived truth is called revolution or dissidence, Christian faith or atheism, whether it is more justified or less justified; a poet who serves any truth other than the truth to be discovered (which is dazzlement) is a false poet.
At his best, Franz Kafka served this “truth to be discovered”, this “dazzlement”, as devoutly as any writer I know of. This is his legacy: freedom. Or what Kundera calls “radical autonomy”. When occasionally, to the delight of the scholars, he bogs himself down in allegory (“In the Penal Colony”, “Investigations of a Dog”, to some extent “A Hunger Artist”), he fritters away his gift on grand ideals. But when in a moment of sheer wilful abandon his imagination takes over and propels him – like the country doctor unable to control his horses – into the unknown, he is unassailable. “A Country Doctor” is five of the most kaleidoscopic and dizzying pages in history: the horses’ faces lolling like cardboard cutouts in the bedroom window at the end are Kafka’s own rebellious muses laughing at him as he curls up in bed with his wound. His Hunter Gracchus is a journeyer from beyond, washed up by mistake in the quotidian world. “The Knock at the Manor Gate”, “The Test”, “The Helmsman” – everywhere there are things in flux on either side of the boundary of dreams. Unfinished stories abound, because Kafka does not do “finished”. Even the near-perfect Metamorphosis ends with a non-ending, and frequently his neatest stories are his most facile. Kafka’s gift is an inspired one, and inspiration, as we know, doesn’t necessarily wait around while we add the finishing touches. These fragments are seeds, or bombs, and their author a wily rebel possessed by the Imp of the Perverse, unsure himself whether he is a gardener or a terrorist. Just, whatever you do, don’t “study” them. Live these stories or leave them alone. More dead readings will only clutter our view of them.
Fact: Kafka is funny.
Fact: He’s not for everyone.
Fact: He writes to the dictates of his heart, not to preach politics or predict the future.
And if you don’t get him, no-one but the most pretentious snob is going to judge you for it.
There are no “must read” books.
A vulture was hacking at my feet. It had already torn my boots and stockings to shreds, now it was hacking at the feet themselves. Again and again it struck at them, then circled several times restlessly around me, then returned to continue its work. A gentleman passed by, looked on for a while, then asked me why I suffered the vulture. “I’m helpless,” I said. “When it came and began to attack me, I of course tried to drive it away, even to strangle it, but these animals are very strong, it was about to spring at my face, but I preferred to sacrifice my feet. Now they are almost torn to bits.” “Fancy letting yourself be tortured like this,” said the gentleman, “I’ve only got to go home and get my gun. Could you wait another half-hour?” “I’m not sure about that,” said I, and stood for a moment rigid with pain. Then I said, “Do try it in any case, please.” “Very well,” said the gentleman, “I’ll be as quick as I can.” During this conversation the vulture had been calmly listening, letting its eye rove between me and the gentleman. Now I realized that it had understood everything; it took wing, leaning far back to gain impetus, and then, like a javelin thrower, thrust its beak through my mouth, deep into me. Falling back, I was relieved to feel him drowning irretrievably in my blood, which was filling every depth, flooding every shore.
Read information about the authorFranz Kafka was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.
His stories include The Metamorphosis (1912) and In the Penal Colony (1914), while his novels are The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927).
Kafka's first language was German, but he was also fluent in Czech. Later, Kafka acquired some knowledge of French language and culture; one of his favorite authors was Flaubert.
Kafka first studied chemistry at the Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague, but switched after two weeks to law. This offered a range of career possibilities, which pleased his father, and required a longer course of study that gave Kafka time to take classes in German studies and art history. At the university, he joined a student club, named Lese- und Redehalle der Deutschen Studenten, which organized literary events, readings and other activities. In the end of his first year of studies, he met Max Brod, who would become a close friend of his throughout his life, together with the journalist Felix Weltsch, who also studied law. Kafka obtained the degree of Doctor of Law on 18 June 1906 and performed an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts.
Kafka's writing attracted little attention until after his death. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories and never finished any of his novels, unless "The Metamorphosis" is considered a (short) novel. Prior to his death, Kafka wrote to his friend and literary executor Max Brod: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread." Brod overrode Kafka's wishes, believing that Kafka had given these directions to him specifically because Kafka knew he would not honor them—Brod had told him as much. Brod, in fact, would oversee the publication of most of Kafka's work in his possession, which soon began to attract attention and high critical regard.
Max Brod encountered significant difficulty in compiling Kafka's notebooks into any chronological order as Kafka was known to start writing in the middle of notebooks, from the last towards the first, etc.
All of Kafka's published works, except several letters he wrote in Czech to Milena Jesenská, were written in German.
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